San Diego's Alpine Beer Company is revered for its hop-forward West Coast IPAs, including Pure Hoppiness, Duet and Hoppy Birthday. Its latest year-round offering, Windows Up, takes a slightly different, but no less delicious, tack.
It's not a game-changer by any means: It's an aromatic IPA laced with Mosaic and Citra, two of the most popular hops in America. But where Windows Up succeeds is in the alchemy of the flavors: An initial wave of pineapple and mango is followed by grapefruit and a resiny dankness, finishing dry with just enough spicy, piney bitterness. It's all bound together by a sweet, caramel-like malt.
Beer writers and judges talk about balanced beers, and this one, to me, seems especially well-made: The competing flavors of tropical fruit and resin are woven together, yin and yang, into one package, with an underlying current of malt that keeps you from noticing the 7 percent alcohol by volume.
When I've been talking to friends and co-workers about Windows Up, the word that comes up most often is "solid." It's not a juicy IPA. It's not a dank hop bomb. It manages to find balance between the two, in a very enjoyable way.
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Alpine Beer Company Windows Up IPA. alpinebeerco.com. $13-$14 for a six-pack of 12-ounce bottles.
If you like this, you should try:
Cigar City Jai Alai: A bright orange/tangerine flavor leads into rich malt and resiny bitterness.
Firestone Walker Union Jack: One of the great West Coast IPAs, with plenty of citrus over a malt backbone.
Triple Crossing Falcon Smash: The Richmond brewery's flagship IPA marries bright orange and citrus to a dank body.